Multisport athletes showcase their talent at the start of road cycling
A busy day at Fuji International Speedway saw 19 Paralympic champions crowned in the time trial as road cycling kicked off at Tokyo 2020 on Tuesday (August 31).
A plethora of highlights included Keiko Sugiura who brought glory to Japan by winning the Women’s C1-3; The German Annika Zeyen, the Dutch Jetze Plat and the American Oksana Masters showed that excellence in one sport can carry over to another, as they each won their respective category. and a young star from Frenchman Alexandre Lloveras, with driver Corentin Ermenault, is on the rise.
It sets the tone for the next three days of road cycling at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
BACK ON A BIKE
When the Paralympic Games were postponed, Keiko Sugiura thought she would not compete in 2021 because she would be 50 by then. But having only gotten her time trial bike three months ago, the pharmacist has gotten back into gear and has set herself the goal of at least a podium finish at her home Games.
She bettered the podium by winning the gold medal, clocking 25:55.76 over the 24 km course, nearly 30 seconds ahead of silver medalist Anna Beck of Sweden. A finalist at the 2019 World Championships in the time trial, the able-bodied former triathlete won her first major career gold medal in Paralympic sports – and did it on her home course.
“I’m really glad I didn’t give up,” Sugiura said. “People around me supported me to continue this sport. Maybe I will give speeches everywhere (on) how to win a gold medal at my age, promoting my story.”
At 50, local rider Keiko Sugiura won the women’s C1-3 event
ANOTHER GOLD, ANOTHER SPORT
Five years ago, Germany’s Annika Zeyen was competing for a gold medal in wheelchair basketball at Rio 2016. Her team lost to the United States in the final, which could have ended her Paralympic career. Zeyen. But still hungry and with energy for more, she switched to para-cycling and after achieving success with back-to-back World Championship titles in the road race, the 36-year-old German added another gold medal. gold to his exceptional CV at the time. H1-3 test, picking up speed in the last 8 kilometers to register a fairly fast time ahead of the Italian Francesca Porcellato, reigning world champion. Zeyen was one of eight German medalists (three golds in total) on Tuesday.
“I never planned to compete in any other sport, but I’m so ambitious,” Zeyen said. “Winning gold medals in two different sports at the Paralympic Games is more than enough.”
Dutchman Jetze Plat had just won a gold medal in the triathlon, and not only did he add another Paralympic gold on Tuesday, but also his first in the H4 time trial. He did not make the event podium at Rio 2016 and took bronze in the road race. But since then the Dutchman has gone unbeaten in both disciplines at all world championships, to set the stage for Tokyo 2020. And he did not disappoint, securing the third gold medal for his country that day (five in total).
“That was the plan (to win both triathlon and cycling). It was a bit risky, but I recovered really well after the triathlon and felt so ready yesterday,” Plat said. if?’ but the bad luck was only yesterday and today everything was perfect.
American Oksana Masters finally clinched her first Paralympic Summer Games gold medal after winning the H5 category. It was a long time coming, having failed to reach the podium at Rio 2016. His victory adds to the pair of gold medals from the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Nordic skiing. The American team won three medals, including two gold in the time trial.
“It wasn’t planned,” Masters said. “I was just trying to hold on and fight for third place. I never thought in a million years that I would be fighting for a gold medal. At Tokyo 2020. In cycling.”
RISING AND RETURNING TALENTS
An injury kept him out of athletics, but Frenchman Alexandre Lloveras found a way to keep playing sports by taking up cycling, and it seemed to suit him best.
The 21-year-old was very quick in the B men to win gold on his Paralympic debut and has announced more to come from the Frenchman.
“Winning the gold medal is fantastic, it’s a dream come true,” said Lloveras. “This medal is for my whole family – my father, my mother and all the staff. Thank you very much. It’s amazing.”
Not new to the sport, Britain’s Sarah Storey won her sixth Paralympic road cycling gold medal in the women’s C5 time trial. This is on top of the gold medal she won at the Velodrome last week.
“The time trial is probably one of my favorite events,” Storey said. “It’s the ‘truth race’. It’s you against the clock and try to take on your competitors as you see them.”
With a gold medal on the track, Britain’s Sarah Story brings the right atmosphere to road cycling and wins the women’s C5 time trial
Competition continues on Wednesday (September 1) with road races.